Once in a long while, a new comic book series comes along that just kicks the hell out of you, melding words and pictures in a way that is impossible in any other medium, telling a story that you can't put down, one that changes the way you see the world.
I've just finished the first two collections from Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli's DMZ, and its really, really goddamned great.
DMZ is set in a near-future America torn apart by a new civil war. The "Free State" army is a band of
redneck insurgents, sick of an America in decline, who've brought Iraq-style asymmetric warfare to the streets of America. Starting in small towns and sweeping across the country, they are fought to a standstill in Manhattan, the DMZ, where they face off against the US military.
Matty Roth is a kid journalist in Manhattan, the sole survivor of an abortive attempt to drop a Geraldo-like journalist into the DMZ to get the "real story" for Liberty, a politicized TV network with the ethics of Rupert Murdoch's FOX. Matty is the intern, but he's got the gear, and the guts, and he sets about telling the stories of a Manhattan under siege, where all the rich people have gotten out, leaving the poor behind for target practice by both armies.
DMZ has the guts and verve of Transmetropolitan, and a similar structure, too — episodic slice-of-life views into a city in glorious, self-devouring ruin, shot through with an overarching plot about the fight of average people and brave journalists to expose official corruption.
The storylines are each vivid and rapid-fire, so that you can't stop reading (if I'd had a stack of these, I would have skipped sleeping and just read all night). Like Y: The Last Man and Fables, DMZ is a new kind of comic, something born from Frank Miller classics like Martha Washington, but way more evolved, ebola to Millers' flu-bug.
The supporting art is even better. There are more grace-notes that hint at a fleshed out world beyond the claustrophobic DMZ, little visual cues that make the whole thing seem completely real, totally immersive.
This was another find from the recommended table at Secret Headquarters, my favorite comic shop, and they just keep steering me right. If you're in LA, they're the best place to go get your brain inverted.